Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, January 19

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Preview Mon Nov 16 2015

Music Institute of Chicago Celebrates Sixth Annual Jazz Festival with Women in the Limelight

When mentioning women in jazz, certain names like the Empress of the Blues herself, Bessie Smith, may come to mind. But singers like Smith and Billie Holiday aren't the only women in jazz. With singers and instrumentalists alike, celebrating women is the focus of the Music Institute of Chicago's Sixth Annual Jazz Festival.

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Colin Smith

Concert Thu Jul 09 2015

MCA Opens "The Freedom Principle" with Examples of Musical Freedom

Wadsworth Jarrell, New Orleans-style group photo in painter Wadsworth Jarrell's backyard, c. 1968/printed 2015. Courtesy of George Lewis.

This Saturday, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), 220 E. Chicago Ave., will open their major summer exhibit, an art and music celebration titled The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art & Music, 1965 To Now. Focusing primarily on avant-garde jazz and experimental music organization the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and visual arts group African Commune of Bad Radical Artists (AfriCOBRA), the exhibit promises to be a garden of challenging delights for ear and eye alike.

The exhibit will feature music and art from, among others, AACM-founder, pianist, and painter Muhal Richard Abrams; Art Ensemble of Chicago bandleader Roscoe Mitchell; and AfriCOBRA cofounders Jeff Donaldson, Jae and Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, and Gerald Williams, including album art, posters, graphic notated scores, and sheet music. In addition, contemporary artists such as Terry Adkins, Nick Cave, Renée Green, Rashid Johnson, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Cauleen Smith, and Stan Douglas will be featured, serving as a bridge that, to quote the Art Ensemble of Chicago's motto, will explore "Great black music -- ancient to future."

With the opening of the event on Saturday, MCA will feature a day of free concerts, workshops, and events that are open to all Illinois residents. The day begins at noon and runs until 9:30pm.

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Chris Sienko

Interview Wed Aug 27 2014

Jazz Speak with Mike Reed

By Stuart Ross

Mike Reed is an example of a Chicago musician we can't take for granted. Born and raised in Evanston, Mike has been an integral part of the Chicago music community for more than 15 years. He showcases his dynamic, skin-tight percussion work with groups like People, Places & Things. And he has a hand in producing a number of events in the city, from the Pitchfork Music Festival to this weekend's free Chicago Jazz Festival at Millennium Park, the Cultural Center and elsewhere around town. The festival kicks off Thursday at noon. See a full schedule.

I spoke with Mike about some of his recent performances and what's upcoming at the festival.


You've been involved with the festival for several years. How did this come about and what were some of your programming goals this year?

I'm involved in this work through being a board member of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, which has been the programming and planning partner since the inception of the festival. The event itself is produced by DCASE, so this is a partnership event with a long history. It's actually the oldest of all the free city festivals.

The committee is made up of eight members, pulled from the larger jazz community as well as the insights of many other friends and consultants. Because of this larger context there's a lot of ideas that circulate on what we're programming and why. We of course want to try and represent the large swath that makes up jazz and especially jazz in Chicago. We don't always succeed in the ways we want to, but it's such a huge task that no one could fulfill every desire.

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Interview Thu Nov 07 2013

A Chat with Dave Rempis: Jazz, Aerophones & Telepathic Empathy

By Stuart Ross

Dave Rempis has been an integral part of the Chicago music scene for 15 years. He curates many of the performances that keep the city a global destination for improvised music. He's also one of the main organizers of the Umbrella Music Festival, now in its eighth year, going on today and throughout the weekend.

Dave's recordings have been reviewed in The New York Times, The Chicago Reader, Downbeat, and others publications. The long list of musicians he's collaborated with includes Roscoe Mitchell, Fred Anderson, and Ken Vandermark.

I talked with Dave about the Umbrella Fest, starting his own record label, how music drives social change, parsley, and a few other things.

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Jazz Thu Sep 12 2013

Whirlpool Offers This World and One More

Today marks the release of the debut album by Whirlpool, the new collaborative effort by local jazz mainstays Caroline Davis, Charles Rumback and Jeff Swanson. The record is entitled This World and One More and is being put out by upstart jazz label Eyes and Ears Records today. The group will be celebrating the release tonight at multi-purpose art venue Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee Ave, where they will be performing music the from the record as part of the venue's Improvised Music Series. Following this evening's performance, the group will be setting out on a small Midwestern tour.

Given some of the other projects that these artists are involved with, not to mention that Whirlpool is uniquely composed of drums, alto saxophone and guitar (Rumback, Davis and Swanson, respectively), it's safe to assume that the trio will offer a refreshing take on what a jazz trio can accomplish via the group's unique collision of backgrounds, timbres and melodies. At the very least, we expect a night of dynamic, boundary-pushing genre expectation from some of the finer up-and-coming improvisational jazz musicians in Chicago today.

Whirlpool performs tonight at Elastic at 10pm. Tickets are $8.

Mike Bellis

Review Sat Apr 14 2012

Review: Preservation Hall Jazz Band @ S.P.A.C.E. 4/10


Preservation Hall Jazz Band © Shannon Brinkman

Anyone who's considered the option of aging gracefully needs to spend an evening in close proximity to Charlie Gabriel, the 79 year-old clarinetist and saxophonist who plays with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and has a penchant for shaking his booty onstage. Gabriel's family has been playing music since the 1850's, and Gabriel himself has played with jazz luminary Lionel Hampton, among others.

Tuesday's lineup of PHJB musicians read like a who's-who of New Orleans Jazz: trumpeter Mark Braud; the aforementioned Charlie Gabriel; trombonist Freddie Lonzo (who's bio omits his birth-date, stating simply that he was "Born in New Orleans, Louisiana;") pianist Rickie Monie; clarinetist and vocalist Clint Maedgen; drummer Joe "Little Joe" Lastie, Jr.; and tuba player Ron Johnson. The group, whose members number at least in the teens, appeared at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston as part of their 50-year celebration tour. They will continue to tour through mid-August, playing in venues from coast to coast, and internationally in Canada, Brazil, and Argentina.

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J.H. Palmer

Preview Mon Apr 09 2012

Preview: Preservation Hall Jazz Band @ S.P.A.C.E.

A recent performance by the PHJB on The Late Show With David Letterman.

Legendary New Orleans jazz group the Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues its celebration of 50 years and running with two back-to-back performances tomorrow night at S.P.A.C.E. (1245 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.) Tickets run from $26-$46, shows are at 6:30 and 9:30. They probably won't be this far north again for a long time, so catch them while you can.

J.H. Palmer

Concert Fri Apr 06 2012

Diamond Terrifier Spooks the Woodwind out of his Sax


Look at the beard on Zs' saxophonist Sam Hillmer. Now look at yourself. Unless you're a graduate of a wizard academy you lack his face plumage. Parishioners of the magical arts like Sam are known for their reality warping rituals. With the sax and electronic drone music of Sam's arcane named project Diamond Terrifier he folds the layers of reality into a cosmic blanket fort and invites us into his world. The gateway into the adjacent dimension opens as Diamond Terrifier and Bachanalia's Flu Riddim Tour stops at Soapbox Music.

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Jason Olexa / Comments (1)

Feature Thu Sep 02 2010

Michael Zerang: Harvesting Energies

Michael Zerang1 - photo by Gareth Mooney.jpg
Michael Zerang (photo by Gareth Mooney)

The first thing Michael Zerang wants to talk about, following our initial chit-chat and coffee orders, is his new xylophone. "It's the thing that's most obsessing me right now," he says. Zerang rattles off numerous details about the instrument: made in the '30s, blonde with rosewood bars, four octaves — few xylophones made these days are that large. "It's an unforgiving instrument. It doesn't have a 'give' the way a vibraphone or a marimba does. It's like a bagpipe — it's either on or it's off," he laughs. He's practicing it for a performance he'll give today (September 2) at noon, as part of the Michael Zerang Organic Unit, a sextet accompanying a Butoh dance troupe at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion as part of the Chicago Jazz Festival.

Of course, xylophone is not the only tool in Zerang's arsenal. Neither, for that matter, is music his only outlet for his love of rhythm.

Casual followers of Zerang's music know him as a master jazz/free improvisational percussionist, a rock-solid base from which all manner of musical forms can spring. Whether thundering behind the well-oiled jazz compactor that is the Peter Brotzmann Tentet or grounding the transmissions of gentler musical aliens like his trio with Mats Gustafsson and Jaap Blonk, Zerang is an ensemble's lightning rod. Unlike many free improvisers, Zerang possesses a rare gift — fearlessness in the face of silence. He's just as comfortable with negative space as with filling the frame.

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Chris Sienko

Feature Thu May 06 2010

Ratchet: Pushing Jazz Forward

ratchetheader half.jpg Sure you know about Chicago jazz venues like the Green Mill, Andy's and Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge, but what about Hungry Brain, Hideout, or even Skylark? Chicago has a rich history of jazz, from the speakeasies of the '20s, to a thriving community of innovators that exists today. Ratchet, taking place Monday nights at the Skylark in Pilsen, is a jazz series in the vein of Umbrella Music, Immediate Sound, and Elastic Arts, which are collectives and series in this small, but visionary creative music community.

The name Ratchet is a reference to a "machine or mechanism that can only move forward, relentlessly — like the tradition of creative music and art in general," says Ratchet founder Frank Rosaly. The tradition of jazz has always been to push the line. While traditional standards from the "jazz age" of the twenties may sound like tame oldies to us now, at the time it certainly pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable, both musically and socially. Jazz in those days was widely considered immoral and vulgar due in part to the fact that most jazz clubs doubled as speakeasies, not to mention its connotations with sex.

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Michelle Meywes

Jazz Wed Mar 31 2010

MCA Announces 2010 "Tuesdays on the Terrace" Lineup

Curtis Robinson Trio at Tuesdays on the Terrace.jpg

Curtis Robinson Trio at Tuesdays on the Terrace

It sure does feel like summer today with temps in the 70's for the first time since last year, but for some of us, the season doesn't really get started until we're sitting on the lawn of the Museum of Contemporary Art sipping a glass of wine and enjoying some live jazz music. The series, as always, is free and features some of Chicago's legendary and innovative musicians including Fred Anderson, Corey Wilkes, Josh Berman and Fred Lonberg-Holm.

This season kicks off on June 1st and runs through September 28th. The music starts at 5:30pm every Tuesday. See the full schedule after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

Jazz Tue Jan 26 2010

The Rodan Trio

parker.jpgThink of this as more of a reminder than an announcement... For quite a while, Jeff Parker (you may know him as the guitarist from Tortise) has led a weekly performance trio on Tuesdays at Rodan in Wicker Park. They call themselves The Cushicles. Although the line-up will sometimes vary (usually based on touring commitments with one of the bands they are a part of) the base group is rounded out by bassist Josh Abrams and fellow Tortoise member, drummer John Herndon. (Other musicians who have played with the group include: Jason Ajemian, Nori Tanaka, David Boykin, Matt Lux, Aram Shelton, Jonathan Crawford, Tim Daisy, Frank Rosaly, Nate Lepine, and Anton Hatwich.)

It's a chance for the guys to escape from the constrictions of performing previously written material and improvise. The chill atmosphere will make you want to kick back, grab a lychee martini from the bar, and stay a while.

See them tonight, and every Tuesday at 10:30pm. 1530 N. Milwaukee Ave. No cover.

Michelle Meywes

Jazz Thu Jul 30 2009

Free Summer Jazz Series Kicks Off Tonight

Grab your mini-picnic table and a bottle of wine--Millennium Park kicks off their fifth season of free summer jazz tonight. Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz features some of Chicago's leading jazz musicians presenting a different style each week. Tonight gets things started with Echoes of Dreams and Inspiration: Chicago Improvisers Orchestra Presents Lincolniana and Sounds of Hope Suite, a tribute to Presidents Lincoln and Obama by composers Elbio Barilari and Kahil El' Zabar.

You'll also get to see some of Chicago's smallest jazz musicians in action; each week the performance begins with a short set by young, aspiring musicians from Chicago-area high schools as part of the Jazz Institute of Chicago's Jazz Links Student Ensembles. The show begins at 6:30pm at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Michelle Meywes

Review Wed Mar 25 2009

Review: Rob Mazurek

album-coverWhat attracted me to want to review Rob Mazurek's new Delmark release, sound is, was the all-star lineup of talent he had assembled. John Herndon on drums (Tortoise, the For Carnation), Matthew Lux on bass guitar (Isotope 217, Iron and Wine) Josh Abrams on acoustic bass (Town and Country, Black Earth Ensemble) and Jason Adasiewicz on vibes (Loose Assembly, Rolldown) is a pretty impressive lineup of guys doing some out-of-the-box music, and Mazurek's leadership had to me the makings of an album that, while avant-garde in ambition, would still appeal to those who wanted good music. Some new ideas, some new compositions that are free to work or not, but musicians with mastery of their instruments and demonstrating a sense of free expression that simply can't be written very easily on musical notation paper.

The problem with avant-garde, besides the (real or imagined) pretentiousness is the loftiness of purpose, as usually set up by breathy press releases. When I read "Jazz cornetist Rob Mazurek consistently pushes beyond the expectations of his listeners, drawing together ideas out of sound, personalities out of space, and fusing color and light into the tones of his music". my mind screamed male bovine excrement. Perhaps because I simply can't suffer puffy writing, or because it's just so damned difficult to describe music that's, well, not pop, and makes no bones about accessibility or lack thereof.

A few of the compositions Mazurek puts forth don't work very well in my opinion for any number of reasons I find sonically distasteful; that is not to say anyone else will or will not like the same thing. For the most part, though, the album is a solid listen. Will anyone else like this album? I believe so, especially those like me who don't mind the lofty goals of avant-garde being met with an overall shine and polish of compositions which at least play lip service to melody, harmony, and rhythm and don't seem to punish you for "not getting it."

Troy Hunter

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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